vegan

serenity now / oat & raisin nut bread

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IMG_1795Now that everyone’s waist deep in the holiday season with “to do” lists longer than Obamacare’s website, I offer a ridiculously simple gluten free bread recipe to curb feelings of insanity. Hooray! This recipe is an adaptation of the Life Changing Loaf from the fabulous blog My New Roots. In addition to this need-to-make-now delicious bread, I suggest you put down your nearly maxed out visa and place those heinous Ugg boots back on the shelf (or back on the sheep’s back) where they belong. Instead of running around the mall like a zombie, chomping down Xanax and drinking so many pumpkin chai latte’s that friends think the cinnamon-nutmeg-clove odor wafting from your pores is actually some exotic perfume purchased from Sephora, take a moment to enjoy this beautiful time of year. The holidays should celebrate our love- for family, for each other, and for the festivities that make this time of year so special, not the wrapped boxes of stuff we give to one another. I’m talking about a plump, pine scented tree, bad Christmas music, tiny white lights, Elf, ugly sweaters, and lots of family madness. Oh yeah, and a table strewn with plate-licking vegan deliciousness atop a set of Spode Christmas dinnerware. Yes, please!

DSC_0018Oat & Raisin Nut Bread 

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw pecans, crumbled by hand

1/2 cup fruit juice sweetened raisins

2 tablespoons coarsely ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons chia seed

3 tablespoons whole psyllium husk powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

3 tablespoons refined coconut oil, gently melted

1 1/2 cups waterIMG_1798

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan, and pour into another bowl with water and maple syrup. Mix wet mixture with dry and stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are well distributed. Scrape mixture into a lightly oiled, silicone loaf pan (you can use a regular loaf pan, but it won’t be as easy to remove the loaf). Allow bread to sit out at room temperature for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350. Bake loaf for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and carefully flip onto a baking sheet. Remove pan and place loaf back into the oven for another 30 minutes. That’s it! Now transfer to a cooling rack or tray and try to wait for the loaf to cool before slicing. This bread is amazing when toasted! Try topping with cashew cheese and roasted beets, or just slather on some earth balance and congratulate yourself on being a genius in the kitchen. Makes one loaf, or enough to feed a small herd of reindeer impersonating unicorns before they hijack santa’s sleigh.

trending veggies / gluten free herbed buttermilk biscuits

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herbed buttermilk biscuit…gluten free, vegan & totally scrumptious
herbed buttermilk biscuit…gluten free, vegan & totally scrumptious

Kale is the preeminent hottie celeb in veggie land; a leafy, tall, barefaced beauty, loaded with chlorophyll (no botox needed here) and ready to kick some free radical ass. Poor broccoli has all but been forgotten, even though this cruciferous superfood is a cancer fighting cross fitter with stalks of muscle and a thick head of green bushy hair to boot. In fact, a friend of mine recently read an article about how broccoli producers are trying to formulate new marketing strategies to bring broccoli’s sexy back. Food trends are crazy, and now that I’m the the ripe old age of 30, I can reflect with a haughty chuckle, the numerous foods that have enjoyed their 10 seconds of fame, and have since faded to obscurity i.e agave nectar, acai berries, veggie dogs, and anything made by Kashi.

One trend, however, that’s here to stay, involves those foods lucky enough to bear a shiny label that reads “Gluten Free”. Like its good friend (and liar) “All Natural”, gluten free foods are the newest paved road to immortality and visions of unicorns (unless, like me, you already live with one). I nearly wept when my blood test results came back declaring an allergy to wheat, thus ostracizing me with scarlet “GF” letters, and throwing me into a breadless basket of wheat haters. I love bread. No, I don’t think you understand–like, really, LOVE bread. If I don’t start my day with a sprouted whole wheat onion & poppyseed bagel toasted with herbed cashew cream cheese, I feel as though my soul is being slowly sucked away by a dementor (if you don’t know what a dementor is, then we’ll never be friends, however, for the sake of sharing important information, a dementor is a creature from the Harry Potter series that sucks all the happiness from your body until you die).

I can’t do the green smoothie thing, or the granola thing, or the quinoa oatmeal thing, or the miso soup thing. Breakfast is about comfort, and in my opinion, the definition of comfort is a warm, toasted bagel that makes you want to spend the day in sweatpants on the couch with as many animals as you can fit.

The point is, I have a wheat allergy. The problem is, I love bread. The solution was obvious, but it took me awhile before I could embrace my new cooking journey i.e. purchase weirdo flours like sorghum, and weep while tossing out bags of sprouted whole wheat.

Behold the gluten free biscuit! This flaky, buttery vegan and gluten free miracle will restore your faith in breakfast. Try not to eat all 12 of them in one day. DSC_0018

Herbed Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits

1 cup arrowroot starch

1/3 cup coconut flour

2/3 cup sorghum flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

Handful of freshly chopped parsley or herbs of choosing

2 flax “eggs” (2 T ground flax seed + 6 T lukewarm water)

2/3 cup unsweetened soymilk

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup refined coconut oil, chilledDSC_0017

Preheat oven to 425. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, including herbs, and stir to combine. Mix the soymilk and vinegar in a separate bowl and allow to curdle for a few minutes to create your buttermilk. Meanwhile, whisk together flax “eggs” until gelatinous. Cut coconut oil into dry mixture using a fork, adding in teaspoon sized chunks until the 1/4 cup is fully used up and mixture is crumbly. Add “buttermilk” and flax “eggs” to mixture, and stir until ingredients are combined. Do not knead. Using your hands, spread dough out on to a clean surface until roughly 1 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to make 12 circular biscuits. Bake for 15 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 biscuits, or enough to feed a small herd of wheat hating unicorns. DSC_0025

six main restaurant / who says connecticut can’t be hip and vegan?

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Six Main in Chester, CT
who knew you could find a vegetarian oasis in connecticut?

In case you didn’t know, Connecticut has a lot to offer i.e. spectacular foliage, prep schools, lyme disease, ESPN, insurance, Martha Stewart, oversized luxury SUV monsters, the praying mantis, and women with 90’s Hillary Clinton haircuts and cashmere sweater sets. Alas, we are a diverse state, but until recently have failed at providing the ever growing non-hippie-private-school-educated-pseudo-gluten-free-vegetarians with plant-based restaurants. Enter Six Main, a wholly vegetarian and mostly vegan restaurant in the heart of Chester, which nearly suffers from the too quaint town syndrome, but saves itself by lacking a Life is Good store and fudge shop. See my thoughts on quaint towns here.

Inside this converted savings bank is a chic, white-linens-and-dark-wood-with-the-good-wine-glasses-and-small-menu kind of restaurant that takes the hip from hippie and does away with the extra letters. Although I love nothing more than the smell of patchouli and wheatgrass and a server wearing a shirt that says “I’m not a nugget”, there is a time and place for veg chic. New York has always been the go to mecca for high end vegan dining, but with Six Main on the map, Connecticut’s veg options are shifting from  miso soup and veggie burgers to beet tartare and kimchee fried rice tempeh satay. I’ll take one of each, thank you.

feeling sophisticated with my glass of sauvignon blanc despite my jeans & oversized sweatshirt ensemble
feeling sophisticated with my glass of sauvignon blanc despite my gorgeous oversized sweatshirt ensemble

 

quite possible the best gluten free focaccia bread I've ever tasted, paired with a delicious tapenade
quite possible the best gluten free focaccia bread I’ve ever tasted, paired with a delicious tapenade

 

roasted squash & arugula salad with toasted pumpkin seeds
roasted squash & arugula salad with toasted pumpkin seeds

 

new england chopped kale salad with peppercorn dressing, avocado and pear
new england chopped kale salad with peppercorn dressing, avocado and pear

 

barbecued portobello and kimchee raw korean tacos
barbecued portobello and kimchee grilled korean tacos

 

kimchee fried rice nut butter tempeh satay with pineapple salsa
kimchee fried rice tempeh satay with pineapple salsa

 

sundried tomato and flax raw tostada with cashew crema, guacamole & salsa
sundried tomato and flax raw tostada with cashew crema, guacamole & salsa

 

 

chef to farm dinner!

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This past Friday I was honored to be Max Restaurant Group’s guest chef for their final chef to farm dinner of the season at Rosedale Farms in Simsbury, CT. This was the first vegan dinner they have ever done, and it was sold out!

In collaboration with Max’s Oyster Bar’s executive chef & culinary genius Scott Miller, we created a delicious five course gourmet seasonal vegan menu. Everything was local- from the gorgeous produce and wine from Rosedale Farms, to the kettle baked tofu from The Bridge, aged cashew cheese from Dr. Cow, and gluten free breads from Dee’s One Smart Cookie. It was a celebration of farmers, foodies, veggies and nutmeggers! Below are some of the photos from the evening. A big heartfelt thank you to all who attended and supported this amazing event!

Rosedale Farms & our chef to table dinner tent nestled within the vineyard
Rosedale Farms & our chef to table dinner tent nestled within the vineyard
DSC_0110
no farm is complete without a chunky red barn
guests enjoying hors d'ouvres & cocktails before dinner
guests enjoying the hors d’ouvres & cocktails before dinner
vegetable foodscapes with roasted red pepper hummus & herbed cashew ranch dip
vegetable foodscapes with roasted red pepper hummus & herbed cashew ranch dip
there was so much love and support from everyone, especially my beautiful mom
feeling so much love and support from everyone, especially my beautiful mom
tofu ceviche. avocado puree. corn nuts.
tofu ceviche with avocado puree & corn nuts.
all of the wine was made right here at Rosedale Farm!
all of the wine was made right here at Rosedale Farms!
plating the amuse bouche- roasted beets, smoked cashews & my homemade herbed cashew brie
plating the amuse bouche- roasted beets, smoked cashews & my homemade herbed cashew brie
baby kale salad with tahini caesar dressing, fried tofu croutons, toasted sunflower seeds & aged cashew cheese shavings
baby kale salad with tahini caesar dressing, fried tofu croutons, toasted sunflower seeds & aged cashew cheese shavings
giving my thanks and explaining the meal
giving my thanks and explaining the meal while trying to keep my delicious beet negroni from spilling
the entree tasting plate: celeriac lasagna with tofu ricotta and arugula walnut pesto, fritto misto of oyster mushrooms with eggplant puree & fried sage leaves, & grilled corn polenta with romesco sauce
the entree tasting plate: celeriac lasagna with tofu ricotta and arugula walnut pesto, fritto misto of oyster mushrooms with eggplant puree & fried sage leaves, & grilled corn polenta with romesco sauce
175 guests embracing a night of veganism :)
175 guests embracing a night of veganism 🙂
our menu
our scrumptious menu
what a spectacular night!
what a spectacular night!

the city / tempeh reubens at clementine bakery

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black tea with soymilk, worn in flip-flops, and a good pair of jeans makes me happy
an ideal day starts with a hot cup of tea, worn in flip-flops, and a good pair of jeans

A lot of my friends live in what they refer to as “the city”, meaning New York, one of nearly 300 major cities in the US, but according to them might as well be the only one. When visiting, I still stumble over where Queens and the Bronx are in relation to dreary old Manhattan. In fact, a while back I drew a map for my buddy of how I thought the boroughs were arranged. He found it so hysterical that he showed it to other city dwellers so they could have a laugh. I’m okay with this. Actually, in a strange way I’m delighted to not know much about the city because everyone else claims the exact opposite. What I do know is that it has insanely good vegan restaurants ,and for that reason alone, I remain a frequent visitor.

behold a perfectly messy tempeh reuben
behold a perfectly messy tempeh reuben

On that note, Tom and I recently visited Clementine Bakery in Clinton Hill (yes, I just googled “Brooklyn neighborhoods”). We go to Clementine a lot because of its proximity to my brother-in-law’s place and for its insanely delicious tempeh reuben. Loaded with homemade apple sauerkraut, marinated tempeh, Daiya mozzarella cheese, and vegan thousand island dressing inside of freshly baked sourdough bread, you cannot go wrong with this sandwich. Yes, it’s full of Daiya cheese which I’m normally not the biggest fan of, but there is a time and place for processed vegan cheese, and this is most definitely one of them. The vibe inside is cute retro hipster, with tattooed, cat-loving-girls-only bakers and Beyonce blasting in the morning. The service is slow, but it’s okay because I like being there and everything is made fresh. Enjoy your reuben outside with a local coffee and the alley cat regulars who attack unsuspecting dogs passing by. Leave your unicorn friend at home so he doesn’t scare the cats away, but make sure you buy him a reuben to go.

jealous?
the apple sauerkraut is divine!
cute alley cat guarding his cafe, much to the terror of local dogs everywhere
cute alley cat guarding his cafe, much to the terror of local dogs everywhere
299 greene avenue brooklyn...go there!
299 greene avenue brooklyn…go there!